Christmas 2016 – Open Studio Sessions

Christmas 2016 – Open Studio Sessions

Celebrate the art of making things together!

Weekly themes are demonstrated in the first 15 mins of Open Studio time. Participants are free to create art pieces related to the weekly theme or can explore art activities of their choice.


Foam-Printed Cards – Monday December 5th and Wednesday December 7th

Create your own personalized foam stamp and make an endless number of cards for the special people in your home and work life! Learn the basics of speedball-printing techniques and make a printed art piece to take home or give away!


Decorations and Wreaths – Monday December 12th and Wednesday December 14th

Get into the holiday spirit and create your own unique multi-medium wreaths, decorations, or tree ornaments using a variety of materials such as: buttons, fabric, cardboard, and paint. From traditional and contemporary, to the subtle and whimsical, come explore some neat ideas while materials are at your fingertips! Make it for yourself, or give it as gift!


Gifts Galore – Monday December 19th and Wednesday December 21st

Come and make some personalized gifts for friends and family. You can make wood-burned boxes, picture frames, wooden spoons or cutting boards, air-drying clay pendants and beaded jewelry, or paint a picture — the options are endless.


Need a gift for someone you love? We have Gift Cards!

Think outside the box and give the gift of creativity to our Open Studio Sessions. Come along to create an unforgettable time of making and sharing, or send loved ones on their own for some much-needed down time. Gift cards can be purchased in person at our clinic, or can be purchased online in our online store by clicking here!

christmas 2016 open studio sessions

Use Art To Improve The Quality Of Life For People With Dementia

Use Art To Improve The Quality Of Life For People With Dementia

Did you know engaging in creative art activities can enhance the quality of life of those who have Dementia and Alzheimer’s?  Anne Davis Basting hits the nail on the head when she says” the visual arts offers a way to communicate beyond words[1].” Art can have a profound impact on the lives of those suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s.


What is Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada defines Dementia as a group of symptoms that affect the brain’s ability to reason, remember information, communicate, and perform day-to-day-activities. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia (50%-70 % of all dementia cases are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s). However, memory loss can also be caused by other factors such as anxiety, vitamin deficiency, cardiovascular health, infection, thyroid function, and even depression.[2] Unlike Alzheimer’s, these conditions once diagnosed, can still be treated, are often temporary, and at times, reversible. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are faced with an incurable disease that affects both language communication and memory retention.

With Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive decline of communication skills occurs. In the early stages, there are word-finding problems, comprehension difficulties, writing and reading difficulties. Over time, word-finding problems increase and conversation diminishes. This will eventually lead to limited verbal communication, the inability to read or write, difficulty expressing feelings, and challenges in recognizing family members. We’ve discovered that emotions and creativity are some of the last functions to decline. Therefore all efforts to preserve these functions through engagement and activities should be encouraged. [3]
As you can see, the differences between the two conditions are significant. it is important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment for cognitive impairments related to Dementia and Alzheimer’s.


Dementia: Let’s Talk Numbers:

These numbers were provided by The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada and the results are astonishing!

  • Worldwide, there are 44 million people who now have some form of dementia. In Canada, there are currently over 747,000 Canadians currently living with dementia.
  • 1 in 11 Canadians over age 65 has dementia and 1 in 3 Canadians know someone with dementia.
  • The Arts and Health Network points out that if real action is not taken to prevent or decrease cognitive decline, by 2031, there will be over 1.4 million Canadians living with cognitive impairment.

Take a look at this infographic provided by The Arts and Health Network here for more information on Dementia and the Art.


How Does Dementia Impact Others?

According to the “We Rage, We Weep Alzheimer’s Foundation” based in Victoria, BC, family and friends provide most of the care for those with Dementia. Moreover, 70% of caregivers assume at least 80% of the financial burden of caring for their loved one. It is also reported that those with Dementia only leave their homes once a week. You can view additional information by checking out these statistics on Dementia.


What Role Does Making Art Play in Improving the Lives of Those With Dementia and Their Caregivers?

Participating in creative arts has proven to be an effective therapeutic activity that adds to the quality of life for both patients and caregivers. For those with Dementia, being involved in creative activity, such as music, dance, and the visual arts can help diminish and prevent the progression of cognitive impairment.


Arts and Aging: The Research:

Several case studies and small trials suggest that using art as therapy improves attention span, social behavior, and self-esteem[4] along with neuropsychiatric symptoms and psychological resilience.[5]

In a 2006 control-group study[6], Dr. Gene Cohen, a leading researcher on creativity and the aging process, found that those who participating in arts and cultural programming had:

  1. An increase in overall health, positive moral, and improved response to treatment.
  2. Positive improvement of depression symptoms, social isolation, and feelings of loneliness.
  3. Fewer doctor’s visits and reduction on hospital stays.
  4. Improvement on cognitive functions.
  5. Decreased usage of prescription and over-the-counter medication.


Case Study – Amazement Through Art: 

Alongside You had the pleasure of visiting with an elderly gentleman who was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. His find motor skills were a challenge to use, but he managed to hold a paint brush with the help of his caregiver. He had never taken to art before, but his caregiver had tried art with him at home a few times and he seemed to enjoy it.  As we helped him pick colours, apply them to the canvas and washed his brush, he kept asking: “Who is painting this, who is doing this?” He could not make the connection that he was painting the picture in front of him. After several failed attempts to explain that it was he who was in fact painting with the brushes, we had the idea to take his picture and film a short video. After filming for a short while, we set the iPad in front of him along with his painted canvas. As he looked, he slowly came to realize that it was he who had painted it and he just started to laugh. With continued fits of laughter, he just couldn’t believe it was him! “That’s me? That’s not me! I can’t do that! But I see it’s me! There I am making the picture!” He was grinning from ear to ear and it was the most animated he had been all week. His sense of humour as a youth had returned in that moment and joy filled his heart and ours. Using art, we were able to step over the barriers of verbal communication and communicate in new and exciting ways. That day, art was truly transformational.

As can be seen in the case study above, art can be used as an effective tool to slow down cognitive deterioration, stimulate and engage patients and increases the quality of life of those affected.


Person-Centered Artistic Care:

Creative arts is not a cure for Dementia or any other Dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. However, it has the power to foster dignity and restore a sense of self. By unleashing the creativity in individuals, art encourages past memories to come to life and has the power to validate a person’s current situation. Mindfulness-Based Art Programing celebrates present tasks in a non-judgmental manner, focusing on the current capabilities of a person. Often, this process brings joy and makes meaningful moments, enhancing the relationships with those around them. 


Revisit our page later for our next post…where we discuss how to begin using art with Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients!



[1] Anne Davis Basting, Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia. John Hopkins University Press. 2009: 124.

[2] The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. What is Dementia: Link: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia  What is Alzheimer’s http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease Accessed 18th September, 2016.

[3] Dr. C. Potts, How Art Therapy Enhances the Quality of Life for Dementia Patients. http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-04-29/art-therapy-for-alzheimers/ accessed September 16th.

[4] Van Lith, T, Schofied, M and Fenner, P. Identifying the evidence base for art-based practices and their potential benefit for mental health recovery; A critical review, Disability and Rehabilitation. 2013.

[5] Anne Bolwerk, et al. How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLOS ONE 9 (12): 2014

[6] Dr. Brian Cohen. The Creativity and Aging Study
The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults Final Report: George Washington University. 2006:1-8

This week in Open Studio Sessions – Styrofoam Printmaking

styrofoam printmaking

Styrofoam Printmaking!

Using something as ordinary as styrofoam can create intricate and layered images, simply by carving into it. Roll on paint and press! Layer designs and colors to create full-sized prints or even a set of cards.

Hope to see you there!

styrofoam printmaking

Images sourced from their respective linked-to sites. Copyright held by their respective owners and used as examples of the style of art being done in the studio

This week in Open Studio Sessions – Beading

beads art studio ladner bc

It’s all about the Beads!

In the studio this week, it’s all about BEADS! We will be learning about basic beading supplies, tools, and other ornament material you need to get yourself started. Beading techniques will be reviewed: how to string and secure beads, how to plan out patterns, how to create beads using paper and even how to design your very own printed pendants using air-drying clay and paint.

Come and make earrings, necklaces, and bracelets along with other beaded crafts such as bookmarks, sun catchers and meditation strands. Its fun and easy and perfect for any age and skill because with a few basic tools and a variety of beautiful beads you can make something special for someone else, or create something unique for yourself.

This week in Open Studio Sessions – Creative Writing

creative writing art journaling

Carve out a reflective space and create the right environment

Create a creative and healing environment for yourself: Do not underestimate the power of interior decorating! Surrounding yourself with inspiring artwork, writing and decor can help lower stress, alleviate the burden of chronic disease and chronic pain, and can even enhance patient care while in hospital and even lead to earlier discharge.

No wonder there is big business in hospital renovation and beautification projects! British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital is currently calling all artists to decorate and inject art throughout the new hospital. Push the laptop aside and replace it with a nice container of coloured pencils for sketching, replace an empty wall with an art piece that brings you joy every time you look at it! Carve out a special spot of your own that will help you be creative! Make it a place that you will be drawn to, be creative in it, and find reflection, rejuvenation, and relaxation. Adding cool tones to a space such as green, pink and light purples and blues brings relaxation, while oranges and reds are energizing. However you choose to create your space, remind yourself that this space is your safe space to engage with your own thoughts and emotions.

3 Ways To Start Your Own Self-Reflection

Why not introduce yourself to creative writing and enjoy the self-reflective and stress-relieving benefits of it! Here are three ways to start your own reflective process:

  1. Draw or write your anxieties on a chalkboard or white-board then wipe the slate clean! The act of expressing your cares, seeing them in front of you and washing them away can be very therapeutic!
  2. Focus on a motivational message, quote, poem, or favourite passage. What will uplift you? Learn it by heart, write it out, or draw out an image reflecting what it means to you. Write it on a sticky note and post it everywhere: your fridge, car, bathroom mirror. Revisit your quote throughout the week, especially when you feel down. Incorporate it into an art piece by drawing, sketching and painting it! Here is a link to some ideas!
  3. Start a journal. It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Having a place to do some creative writing, or to write about your thoughts and life experiences throughout the week allows you to process your emotions, and may help you to see some of your life situations and feelings in a different light. Regular journaling, no matter how mundane the entries, offers a quiet space for you to take time for yourself! Set the tone by seeking out a great journal and pen of your liking to make the activity that much more enjoyable! Add a hot beverage and your quiet time will rock!

3 Ways to start your journey in the studio this week

  1. Do a self-reflective art project: make a collage or a mask! So much of healing comes from self-reflection and building self-confidence. Making pieces such as a self-portrait or art piece using collage materials, or creating a mask out of clay or paper maché are projects that can help us do some soul searching. Be inspired as you go! Tear out words and images from the paper or a magazine that speak to you and arranging them on the page. During the process, a theme often emerges and the final image expresses elements of a message or aspects of us in a visual way.
  2. Try art journalling. If you like journaling but want to add some artistic and visual flare to your pages, try art journaling! Art journaling is more than a passing fad. Many people have found this type of artwork very reflective and rewarding and are passionate producers of beautiful and elaborate pages. Use your favorite poem, short story, or narrative and ask yourself how it can be translated in an interesting way to the page using words and images. Have a look at some examples: no need to be intimidated, art journaling is one’s personal thoughts and dreams in visual form and we have a wide variety of suggestions, prompts, creative journaling project pages waiting just for you! Just select a project page that interests you get started on your version of it! We have a wide variety of materials that can be used in the art journaling process such as watercolour pencils, crayons, or pallets, chalk or oil pastels, fine line coloured pens and sharpies, inks and stamps, multi-media paper products, stencils and templates, and even books and books of visual and literal inspiration! During our open studio sessions we will even give you the best tips and techniques for you to use at home, on the go, and in studio!
  3. Use our creative writing prompts. We have a great selection of writing and drawing prompts geared towards all ages that will keep your hands and mind moving! Write about whimsical things such as a short story that includes a prince, a tractor, and a magical frisbee! Or explore on a deeper level and write about a time when you truly felt yourself. Then you can really start to explore what motivates you to create art, to write, to dance, sing and even be a good friend. No need to share your writing in the studio unless you want to! Your work is yours!


…Write Right Now!